Excerpts from reviews of the New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season in 2015.
‘KARST’, presented May 2015 at Te Whaea in Wellington.
Karst is the New Zealand School of Dance’s most innovative season yet
The New Zealand School of Dance always puts on a stellar performance, especially with its final-year class, but Karst, its Choreographic Season for 2015, adds some unexpected and welcome twists, and puts audience members into the performance, at least during the first half. Arriving at Te Whaea, you’re aware something is different: instead of the waiting area that you’re accustomed to, there’s blackness. The auditorium, meanwhile, has become the new waiting area, with TV screens showing the final-year students’ faces in the centre, and the tables moved within. As the show started, we were escorted to the catwalk above the plaza, where the show takes place...
...The season is directed by Victoria Colombus, an NZSD graduate, and is the most innovative Lucire has reviewed at the venue. Colombus rightly used the space to great effect, and we hope that there will be future performances there. Removed from the traditional shape of the auditorium, the students made very effective use of their new stage, and the architectural structure helped give a scale beyond what the auditorium offers.
Jack Yan, Lucire
Celebration of Crafting, Learning and Imagination
We are treated to a reverse scenario in the New Zealand School of Dance's 2015 Choreographic Season featuring eleven works by its third year contemporary dance students. What we encounter is that the theatre at Te Whaea, which normally houses these productions, has become the foyer, complete with tables and chairs, brochures and a refreshment bar, while the building's spacious plaza has been cordoned off and transformed into a performance space with an imposing seating block.
Given the attractiveness of Te Whaea's architecture, this rearrangement of the conventions of performance is a unique and stylish innovation. Clever also in that it offers the students a different spatial challenge to work with from usual, while allowing the school to display its large number of elite dancers in impressive group formations and configurations that would be impossible in the smaller dimensions of a typically-sized rectangular stage. So we see bodies filling the immense, beautifully varnished floor space, while others appear and/or disappear into the depths of a distant corridor, and yet others gaze down at us from the surrounding metallic balconies, with entrances and exits provided from multiple levels, directions, alcoves and locations.
Instead of being dwarfed by the vast area, in this production the scale of dancer to environment is a perfect fit. The overall statement here is: we have numbers and this is a prestigious school. It is all invitingly sleek, professional, seductive. And proud. What is expected of our national school of dance is delivered with confidence and elegance. The waves of graduating talent that are annually released on the world are visibly at its highest standards. This is the assurance that we are given to appreciate and acknowledge. The machinery of dance education working with great precision, rigour and finesse. The result, as evidenced by this year's choreographic season, is a pleasing visual sensorium of virtuosity and polish. Technical, expressive, smart, athletic, tight and fresh...
Chris Jannides, Theatreview